September is just around the corner, and we go back to our old routines. Our lives are full of juggling extra curricular activities, work, gym sessions, and everything in between. The easiest way to eat is drop by the grocery store to pick up ready made meals or go to the nearest fast food restaurant. This is not the healthiest way to eat, and leads to a lot of healthy problems down the line. What we put into our bodies matters. I hear patients saying to me, “I know it is not the healthiest, but it is better than starving myself”. This thinking is the problem. Yes, food is fuel and you need to eat. Not all food is the same. Healthy food is better fuel for your body. You have the ability to have healthy food quickly and easily all the time. It requires planning, and time to make it, but the positive attributes to meal prepping outweigh the time and planning it takes.
Meal prepping is a great weight to management, improves your energy, decreases stress, and saves you money. Once you start meal prepping you will have wondered why you hadn’t done it before. It frees up a lot of time through out the week, and provides healthy meals exactly when you want to eat them. It is faster than getting fast food through out the week. Here are 5 tips to help you start Meal prepping;
1. Choose 1 Consistent Day a Week and Commit to it.
Assign one day a week to meal prepping. You will form a habit, and know that the shopping and planning has to be done by this time. Meal prep days will not the entire day, but will take a few hours of it. I typically meal prep on a Sunday afternoon for the up coming week. If you have a day off in the middle of the week and want to do that, by all means take a day where you can commit 3 hours.
2. Plan Your meals and make a Shopping List.
Thinking about what you are going to meal prep for the next few days can be the hardest part of meal prepping. This step is vital in sticking to meal prepping. Search google for healthy recipes if you are feeling uninspired, and remember to make them in bulk. Once you have decided what you are going to make, create a comprehensive grocery list. Make sure to include the amount of each ingredient you need for bulk cooking.
3. Invest in a slow cooker.
Slow cookers are life savers. They are easy to use, all the cooking is done through out the day while you are at work and you come home to a hot, delicious, home cooked meal. Place all the ingredients in the slow cooker, turn it on, and leave for work. That’s it. You can pick up a slower cooker at different price points anywhere where they sell kitchen accessories. I recommend getting a 4 qz or above. This way you can eat your dinner and have prepped other meals for the week or freeze them for another time to eat them. There are a lot of cook books our internet posts with slow cooker recipes. This is a staple for cooking healthy with a busy schedule.
4. Freeze Meals in a Properly Sealed Container.
Some people are not into eating left overs for 4 days in a row. They like to have variation, and don’t want to make 8 different meals on their meal prep day. Make the 4-6 portions of your food, but freeze 2-4 portions. Make sure you label when you put this in the freezer and what is in it. It will help you when you go to take it out of the freezer. Most food will thaw out during the day, and you just have to reheat the meal. This method will take a few meal prep days to build up a selection. Remember to add to this every time you meal prep, and take out some frozen portions to supplement the food you are freezing.
5. Meal Prep Your Snacks.
Don’t forget about in between meal snacks. Here is where people will go to the convenience store and pick up a bag of chips or a chocolate chip muffin. Account for your snacks on your meal prep day. These don’t have to be things you make. Snacks can be cut up veggies and hummus, or cheese slices with organic turkey pepperoni and grapes. Taking the time to have prepped the snacks will prevent unhealthy slip ups.